What’s in a name?

Techdirt: Publisher Threatens Writers Association With Defamation Suit After Being Kicked Out For Not Paying Royalties

Okay, I’m up for reading about the inner workings of the publishing industry. Let’s have a look at the first paragraph:

Back in 2014, erotica publisher Ellora’s Cave…”*

Okay, I’m going to need a moment.

*My emphasis and ellipses.

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What’s in a name?

A bit more about Divinity

I’m going to nerd out about Divinity: Original Sin for a moment. Feel free to skip this post.

Even though I’ve never really been into Bioware’s Infinity Engine games, I have played more than a few fantasy RPGs over the years; that prior experience makes the combat in Divinity feel a little generic. There are a few common strategies that apply to most party-based combat engines, and sure enough, they apply to D:OS as well.

This makes all kinds of sense. Generally, the point of most encounters is to kill the enemies before they can kill you, and the fun is in finding the best way to do that. You can try to mitigate damage to your party or stack healing, either method meant to outlast your opponents even though you don’t hit them very hard. Or, you can overwhelm them with massive damage, hoping to end the fight as fast as possible before your guys get creamed. The former often requires foreknowledge of what enemies you’ll be facing, and constant swapping in and out of specialized equipment, while the latter sometimes requires crafting, lucky looting, and minmaxing. I find both those things a little dull. Or maybe I’m just not good at them.

I tend to prefer a control/sabotage strategy. That is, you waltz on to the battlefield, nail your enemies to the floor, and then pound them (lightly, because you haven’t focused on damage in your build). The key here is initiative: it really helps if you get to move first. The point is that you lock them down before they can hurt you, and then you keep doing that until you win.

This tactic has been working pretty well for me in D:OS — though I’m not too far in the game yet. We’ll see how it goes. On the one hand, I’d like this to continue, because it’s the only way I have of getting through the fights; on the other hand though, I kind of want to be forced to explore different strategies, because this is the one I’ve always used and it almost always works too well…

Another thing: I don’t really feel connected to my character all that much, because I don’t feel like I’m guiding their growth. D:OS is really stingy with the levels (which is very old school), but my fighter feels very generic since they have almost no class-unique skills. Add to that the fact that the point system for leveling up rather encourages you to not spend your points when you get them if you want to specialize at all, and you end up with a character decked out in the same best equipment that everyone else has, and can do mostly the same stuff.

It’s still mechanically fun, and battles are like puzzles, so I’ll keep playing until I get to something too frustrating to deal with. I get the impression the makers of D:OS were trying to create something that so perfectly embodies the top-down turn-based RPG of ages past; I think they’ve succeeded. I’m just trying to figure out if it’s my cup of tea or not.

A bit more about Divinity

Divine weekend

I mostly played Divinity: Original Sin (Enhanced Edition) for the Playstation 4, this weekend. Actually, I mostly slept this weekend, but I don’t have much to say about that. D:OS is an interesting piece of software; a throwback to Baldur’s Gate and stuff, but set in its own non-D&D universe… not that you could tell, necessarily. As soon as I saw how slowly the character moved, I knew this would be a long game. It’s all right, I guess. Played it for something like eight hours over the course of three days. Got hardly anything done.

I also missed a housewarming party because… well I didn’t really feel up to going. I find company excruciating. Apparently most people find it merely annoying. There is definitely something wrong with me, but we know that already, so let’s stay positive. My housemates actually did go, which meant I had the house all to my self. This never, ever happens. I got a chance to sing along with my guitar for a little bit (which I can’t do when they’re home because they hate it), and it seems that some point in the last five years (I told you it’s been awhile) my natural singing voice has dropped a bit. Not like I care — but I was quite surprised. Like spending five years not looking at your head at all, only to realize that your hair has gone gray.

The point is that I am an old man, and I spent a lot of time playing a video game that I’m kind of only okay with.

Divine weekend

On the use of weapons

Techdirt: Yes, A Billionaire Looking To Destroy A Media Organization Through Lawsuits Is A Big Deal Even If You Don’t Like The Media Organization

Perhaps this is an over-reaction. Surely there’s nothing disturbing about a group of all-powerful people taking steps to render themselves completely unaccountable to the rest of society, right? (Ha-ha, Peter Thiel I love you, please don’t ruin my life.)

A totally unrelated thing to consider: Weapons are amoral. They work just as well in the hands of a bad man as they do in the hands of a good one.

On the use of weapons

Fantastic question

“Why does so much fantasy fiction borrow so heavily from Tolkien? Why can’t they come up with something entirely, completely, world-changingly original?”

Really?

1. It’s familiar

Orri was a greeblek…

“Wait, a what? What the fuck is that?”

[Long descriptive paragraph about what greebleks are.]

“Oh, okay.”

Orri lived in the land of the Iops…

“What? Hang on, who are they?”

[Long descriptive paragraph about who the Iops were.]

“Right, right, I understand now. Man, this is boring, when does the plot start?”

2. Middle Earth is a laid out like a playground, and lots of people want a go at the equipment.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to roam the forests with the Rangers? Or ride the windswept plains with those horse guys? What exactly is the deal with the elves and stuff? I wish I could visit New Zealand.”

3. It is really bloody difficult to come up with something that’s completely original and also entertaining. Go on, try.

Greebleks are short, wide, and hirsute…

“Wait, isn’t that just a Tolkieneque dwarf?”

Um no, they… uh, live in the trees…

“So you’ve just swapped them for elves. And also, that doesn’t make any sense.”

So anyway…

It’s not that I think writers shouldn’t expand their horizons, it just annoys me when people insist on asking why hardly anyone does. You KNOW why. What you probably mean to say is that you’re bored with it all, which you have every right to be! How do you fix it? I don’t know if you can. Your best bet is to search long and hard for someone out there who does it the way you like it, and then make an ostentatious display of giving them or the company they work for money. Then people will say, “Hey, she did that different thing and then she got MONEY. Maybe if we do that different thing, we’ll get MONEY! Quick, hire people who do the different thing — we’ll give them a little money, but maybe we’ll eventually get back EVEN MORE MONEY!”

 

Fantastic question